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'It's Embarrassing': Why These Independent N.H. Voters Are Fed Up With Politics04:03
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Striker’s East Bowling Center in Raymond, NH. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Striker’s East Bowling Center in Raymond, NH. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Plenty of New Hampshire residents are turning out to vote Tuesday for their presidential candidate of choice. But others remain undecided — unsure which candidate will get their vote — or, whether they’ll cast a vote at all. And they’re not alone. The secretary of state’s office in New Hampshire estimates around a 40% voter turnout on primary day, meaning the majority of eligible voters will stay home.

New Hampshire’s largest city, Manchester, is the epicenter of the state’s presidential primary action. That’s where candidates are rallying, volunteers are canvassing and the media is swarming. But about a 20-minute drive east, in Raymond, three friends are focused on bowling and, almost begrudgingly, talking politics.

They’re all registered independents, and they’re all leery of getting too deep into primary talk in the middle of a game of 10-pin. But eventually, David Kittery, of Derry, announces he’s voting for Donald Trump.

“He don’t take any crap from anybody," Kittery says. "I know his ego gets him in trouble but still."

With that declaration, one of Kittery’s bowling buddies rolls his eyes in disapproval. Kittery is used to that reaction.

"My wife hates him," Kittery says, referring to President Trump. "I just like what he's doing for the economy and what he's doing to China."

Kittery says the choice is simple for him — it all comes down to the economy.

"I made $114,000 last year in my 401(k), OK?" he says. "Do I need to say more?"

But Kittery’s bowling friends don’t see things so clearly. They’re conflicted and frustrated.

Rich Salvo, of Fremont, explaining why he’s still undecided, begins recapping the president’s recent state of the union address.

“They all act like kids — it’s awful," Salvo says. "This is our government. President refuses to shake hands with Pelosi. She, like a little kid, rips up the speech and throws it away. This is the people who rule our government. It's awful."

Even still, he does plan on voting Tuesday. Who will get his vote remains a mystery, even to Salvo.

"Honest to God, I have no idea. I thought I did, then you hear some other things, it's just, it's just not like it used to be," he says. "You know, you could figure out who you wanted for president to lead the country but, they all say what they have to say to get elected and then they blow it all — and they don't do anything.

"They should be accountable for that," Salvo adds, his voice rising in exasperation.

For some voters, like U.S. Army veteran David Riccio, nothing about the current political landscape makes sense.

He says he didn’t choose a presidential candidate in 2016, and he’s not sure if he’ll vote for anyone in 2020, either.

"I used to be into politics quite a bit but the atmosphere in Washington right now — on both sides — is not only sad, but it's embarrassing," he says.

Riccio, who lives in Fremont, says the partisanship displayed by politicians at the national level has left a sour taste in his mouth, even when it comes to New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, which he says he takes very seriously.

"I'm blaming Washington for that," he says. "Both sides, both sides."

Both sides will be watching closely Tuesday as voters like Riccio decide which candidate, if any, deserves his vote.

This segment aired on February 11, 2020.

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Shannon Dooling is an immigration reporter at WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station.

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